Many books about Bomber Command have recorded the experiences of aircrew who flew operationally and came into contact with the enemy but few acknowledge the sacrifice of the many young airmen who never had the opportunity to "fire a shot in anger" because they were killed in the course of the training process.
Men such as the seven crewmembers of Lancaster 7575, who were all killed when their aircraft crashed in the Hertfordshire village of Colney Heath in 1943 during a training flight and thus became part of a little-known statistic ~ the 5,327 airmen killed during aircrew training in World War II.
The war brought together young men from different countries and backgrounds who, in normal circumstances, would never have met. This book tells the story of seven such young men, their family backgrounds, their training, how they eventually came together as a crew to fly an aircraft, and what they did with their time off and when on leave.
It is also the story of the aircraft in which they flew on that last fateful night of their lives, Lancaster L7575, of the famous mission in which it had previously taken part (the Augsburg raid), of the ground crew who serviced it and the indispensable role they played.
We learn how, one rainy autumn night, a sleepy English village suddenly and literally felt the impact of the war ~ to the eternal grief of one family and the lasting memory of many others ~ and of the part played by members of the rescue services, who did so much that night in difficult circumstances.
There was also something of a mystery regarding the cause of this tragic accident. How far can the official report be relied upon? Or was there an entirely different reason?
This account of the circumstances surrounding this one particular crash, which was not untypical of many others which cost the lives of thousands of young airmen during World War II, serves as a valuable reminder of the particular dangers faced by those learning to fly during the wartime years.
It is important that there contribution of those lost in training and therefore denied the opportunity to engage the enemy and play an active role in the war should not be underestimated or forgotten and the author is to be congratulated for bringing this to our attention.